With the news that China’s central bank is lowering interest rates, the bull market that began in 2009 is likely entering its final stage, which should carry it into at least the next year. Fears that the current global economic recovery is faltering led not just China’s central bank to cut rates, but the European Union to lower rates from 1 to 0.75 percent and the United Kingdom to increase its stimulus efforts. With a weak June jobs report, expectations of further monetary intervention by the United States also grew. But outside of China, monetary intervention is to a large degree pushing on a string. And even if China can give the world a temporary boost, the expansion of its economy will only provide a reprieve from the onset of the next downturn.
In hindsight it’s ironic that the economy of the nineties was described as the Goldilocks economy—not too hot, not too cold, but just right for high employment and strong growth. Ironic, because the real moral of the story people should have heeded is that there is no free lunch. And, like in the Goldilocks’ fairy tale, three unfriendly bears emerged. If the nineties was the Goldilocks economy then the period we now find ourselves in of both weak growth and employment might best be described as the three bears economy. Since 2000 there was the baby bear of the dotcom bubble, the mamma bear of the residential real estate bubble and the daddy bear of the government debt bubble—corporate, consumer and now government-led bubbles of unproductive and hence unsustainable spending.